The Importance of Definitions in Print Estimate Configuration

The Importance of Definitions in Print Estimate Configuration

The decision to upgrade or replace your current estimating software often boils down to two areas: cost and efficiency. When your system can’t keep up with the volume and complexity of your print operations, that’s exactly where you start to see the biggest cracks in your foundation. You end up losing money on estimates and calculation errors while your overworked estimators are drowning in bottlenecks.  

The reality is that the estimating and quoting process is often where most printers experience the biggest problems. Here are 5 of the most common mistakes we’ve seen in the past. From complex manual processes to unreliable data, these printers struggle to make their estimating software work for their operations.

What you need is a modern print management platform where your people can rely on an estimate using machine capabilities—rather than the estimators— to make judgment calls. In the print MIS/ERP world, this happens using “definitions.”

The Role of Definitions in Reliable Print Estimating

Definitions are used to configure an estimating system. As print software expert Jennifer Matt pointed out in a recent WhatTheyThink article, “If you have multiple printing devices, you need multiple definitions. You will also need multiple definitions for the same printing device.”

PrintVis is a cloud print MIS/ERP solution that does this very well. It allows you to create as many definitions as you need without being limited by other solutions. Entering as many definitions as necessary during system setup defines the options for what you offer and will give you the utmost flexibility in estimating. It makes sure that with one click, all the pricing and additional information will come across without the user needing to make multiple decisions to generate an estimate. If six press definitions will make it easier for your users to choose the right pricing structure, then you’re on your way to creating more precise and timely estimates.

The other great thing about definitions, specifically in PrintVis, is that you don’t have to have it all figured it from the beginning. There are often overlooked or new opportunities that appear after the initial system setup. In PrintVis, you have the ability to add definitions as time goes by—without the need to engage a programmer or outside consultant. Here are two examples:

  • If you have wide-format devices and are producing signs and display graphics, chances are you have a hybrid roll-to-roll/flatbed device. You can establish separate definitions for when it is used to print rigid versus roll substrate, and you should be able to be as granular as makes sense for your business. If you have a customer that specifies a roll substrate you don’t typically use or carry in inventory, you can charge them for the entire roll instead of a specific number of square feet the job requires. That is because whatever is left over, you likely cannot use. This is a standard practice in most wide-format businesses; setting the system up to accommodate this makes it easier for your users to quote the right price every time.

  • In this example, you are a digital printer with inline finishing. In this case, you would set the definitions up with a description that includes inline binding—and one that does not— because it is very likely that both instances will arise during quoting. Either the print job does not require finishing, or it requires specialized finishing that you will do offline.

Why Should I Start Using Definitions?

One of the biggest reasons to consider using definitions in your next print MIS/ERP system is real-time reporting. Having centralized pricing tables integrated into a single print management system means that you can generate any report you need to manage the business better.

Let’s go back to that hybrid wide-format printer example. Your wide-format business is booming, and you are thinking about acquiring another printer. Should you get a hybrid? A dedicated flatbed? A roll-to-roll printer? If you have set up multiple definitions in your print MIS/ERP system, you will be able to easily pull data that shows how much roll-fed versus rigid product your current equipment is producing and determine where you should make the investment.

When you have multiple definitions for a piece of equipment, you are also able to generate reports that analyze the piece of equipment as a whole—what is the total work in progress, for example. With those definitions, your MIS/ERP should be able to produce a report sorted by machine ID number or name.

What to Look for in Modern Estimating Software

In our latest whitepaper, “How Your Estimating Process Can Help—or Hurt—Your Business,” we evaluate the technology behind estimating efficiency. You will learn the difference between standalone estimating software and integrated print MIS/ERP software, as well as gain some valuable insight into improving your current estimating practices.  

Our goal is to help you gain a better understanding of where your current estimating and quoting processes are failing. From there, we have provided a full overview of the technology and features out there that can help you simplify and streamline your estimating processes, from pricing strategies to reporting and standardization.

If you have any specific questions about how to select the right estimating software for your business and people, you can reach out to our team directly.